Jeremy Hunt vows independent probe to ‘root out’ Islamophobia in Tory Party
Jeremy Hunt has pledged to order an independent investigation into the extent of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party if he becomes its next leader.
In his strongest intervention on the issue yet, Mr Hunt, who is battling it out with Boris Johnson to succeed Theresa May as PM, said the party had to “set an example” and “root out” anti-Muslim hate from its ranks.
The call came as ITV News revealed that its dossier of alleged Islamophobic comments by people who claim to be Tory members had almost reached 200 names.
When asked how serious the Foreign Secretary believed the problem to be within the Tories, he told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “Well we have led the charge in criticising Jeremy Corbyn for not doing enough to tackle anti-semitism in the Labour Party, so we must set an example in tackling all prejudice within our own party.
"And that’s why the right thing to do is to have that independent inquiry, and get to the bottom of it, and absolutely root it out.”
Mr Johnson, the current frontrunner in the leadership race, told ITV he would bring forward “an inquiry into every manner of prejudice within the party”.
"We treat any allegations of prejudice or discrimination or Islamophobia, within our party, any kind of prejudice as absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
Among the latest raft of cases are social media posts describing Islam as a "death cult", one calling Muslims "parasites", while another posted: “Islam = EVIL – FACT".
Another seen by ITV News says: "Islam is an evil death cult that's invaded these shores and it's your God given right to fight it."
The broadcaster also revealed that those under investigation for alleged Islamophobic comments would not automatically have their voting rights in the leadership race withdrawn, unless they had been suspended or expelled.
Party chair Brandon Lewis said there was a “long-standing tradition [in this country] that you are innocent until proven guilty”.
“If somebody has posted Islamophobic comments and is found to have done that, we act swiftly, we would not accept them as a member of the party," he said.
He added that some of the cases which had been referred to the party did not involved Tory members.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) wrote to Britain’s equalities watchdog in May has demanding a formal inquiry into claims that had been made.